To be sure, as a 32 year old guy with no kids and absolutely no sense of fashion, I felt a little out of place in the Girls’ section of the department store. Looking rather lost, I awkwardly stumbled my way past racks of pink and purple jackets and tiny shirts covered with bunny rabbits and rainbows. “OK”, I thought, “I’m clearly out of my element here, and I need to enlist the help of someone in the know. I need a pint-sized fashionista.”
I looked down at the piece of crumpled paper in my hand, which read “Janaya, size 4” – and wondered to myself what size I would I be if they handed out numbers like that for men – but never mind, I’m getting sidetracked. Back to the mission at hand – finding a coat for this special young lady.
I didn’t just want to get her any coat; I wanted to get her the perfect coat! The kind of coat that would keep her warm at the bus stop. The kind of coat that would protect her on all the little kid adventures she would go on. But where do I start?
“Ahaa “– I thought, “I’ll call my little brother.” My brother, Ryan, has a great deal of experience interning at Elementary Schools, as he is studying to become an Elementary School Councilor. “He’ll at least have some idea of what kids wear today,” I thought – my greatest fear being that I present Janaya with the 2011 version of the Member’s Only jacket which plagued my 4th grade year.
I call up Ryan, and with the promise of a meal at his favorite BBQ place he is quick to meet me at the store. Finally, someone with a sense of style and an idea of what kids today like to wear! Together we made our way through the isles, but this time with a sense of purpose and direction. We quickly located what we both considered to be the best jacket ever made in the history of mankind, but we couldn’t stop there.
We found so many other great little shirts and pants, and then finally the kicker – a Dora the Explorer backpack that was on sale! I honestly have no idea who Dora is, or what she explores, but I know that kids do – so I grabbed that as well.
By the end of the night, we had amassed quite the assortment of adorable attire – which we verified with a mother who was kind enough to help us with a few selections. While the young lady rang us up at the register, my brother quietly slid a few bills my way. He too was caught up in the spirit of giving, and felt compelled to contribute to this most worthy cause.
We left the store with bags in hand, and smiles firmly stamped on our faces. We were so caught up in discussing the great haul we just made, that we completely forgot to stop for BBQ as promised – which is rare for my family (as the photo included with this story will attest).
A few weeks later ma Cares held their Give a Kid a Coat event at The Pathways Center in Greensboro, and I had the unique pleasure of seeing our gifts bestowed upon the little girl who I had previously only known by the piece of paper with her name and size – Janaya. I was lucky enough to even have the opportunity to meet her, and talk with her. She is a sweet, adorable little girl, and was so grateful for the clothing we got her. Meeting her was a special experience I will treasure forever.
Having the chance to see the impact you have on the lives of these children is amazing. While buying a coat for child is a seemingly simple task (hey if I can do it anyone can), the impact this can have is utterly profound. Being able to witness the love and appreciation these families have for the coats and clothing they received was incredible.
It’s an almost indescribable feeling when you remove yourself from the equation, and start doing things for others. All too often we find ourselves wrapped up in the problems of our daily lives – but when you really think about it, the issues most of us face on a daily basis are nothing compared to the search for a warm place to sleep at night. That’s why places like The Pathways Center are so important to the Greensboro community.
Taking time to volunteer, or donating to a worthy cause such as The Pathways Center, is a deeply rewarding experience. During this holiday season, I suggest you reach out to local charities and find out what you can do to help make a difference. I guarantee you will be very glad you did.